Huddersfield mum-of-five on Universal Credit has to use credit for food shop despite husband's £50k salary

A mum-of-five uses Klarna to buy her big shop says more needs to be done to tackle the cost-of-living crisis
-Credit: (Image: © Laura Caine / SWNS)

A mum-of-five with a £62k household income has resorted to using Klarna to afford her food shop - due to the cost-of-living crisis.

Laura Caine, 40, struggles to cover her family's monthly outgoings using her £1k-a-month universal credit payment and her husband Martin's £50k games programmer salary.

The couple have five children - aged 18 to nine - and say feeding the brood three meals a day gets expensive so they have had to use the buy-now-pay-later service.

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In recent months Laura says she had to use Klarna to afford groceries as she "can't afford" to pay for a big shop upfront. Laura claims both she and Martin have both maxed out their credit cards after their energy bill shot up to £450-a-month from £200.

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Laura, originally from Fife, Scotland, but living in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, said: "I’ve seen the struggles of so many families - I've been to food banks with mums and dads with their kids, waiting and wondering what they will be getting, it’s awful.

"The way I shop now, if I have £35 to spend for the week, I could get a £105 shop using Klarna and that's £105 worth of food in your cupboards and pay £35 per month back for three months.

"If I do it this way it means I can take my kids to places once a month like museums or a train ride somewhere."

Laura Caine's children Damien, 18, Willow, 15, Vaughan, 12, Warren, 11, and Logan, 9.
Laura Caine's children Damien, 18, Willow, 15, Vaughan, 12, Warren, 11, and Logan, 9. -Credit:© Laura Caine / SWNS

Laura says she has been left with no choice but to use Klarna for her food shop due to her circumstances - but wouldn't encourage others to do the same.

She said: “The last shop I did I spent £1,050 and am paying £350 back each month. The same shop used to be £500 pre-covid which just shows how much costs have gone up – but it will last me a month and a half, which is not bad for a family of seven."

The food shop she does is usually comprised of fresh fruit and veg. "I'll get 10 packets of carrots at 65p a bag and prep them and put in the freezer," Laura said.

"Potatoes I'll get 10 bags and keep them in our cellar. I buy fresh meat and freeze it as well as flour and butter as I make giant tray bake cakes in the big tray for the oven, I also get crisps and squash."

Prior to using Klarna, Laura also had to rely on food banks while she also frequents wholesalers to buy bulk essentials like toilet rolls and flour to make bread.

Laura said: "Last year my benefits switched to universal credit - whereas before I was on tax credits and it has given me a cash flow problem.

“Instead of getting paid once per week I got paid once per month, which made things even more challenging, which is why I've had to start using Klarna.

"It just means if an emergency pops up like having to pay for an MOT or gas bill - even though it is more money, in the long run it allows me to make ends meet."

Laura was desperate to avoid frequent visits to food banks. She continued: "When money eventually came in, I decided how can I make sure that we don’t go to food banks anymore – try and get food that would last longer."

"So I found Klarna – that's how I ended up starting to use it, I don’t recommend it to people who can’t afford it. I know it’s not the ideal thing, but with the cost-of-living crisis, I'm having to use it."

Laura cooks all meals from scratch and freezes prepped vegetables to ensure nothing is wasted. "I've got big freezers, I homeschool my five kids and always make sure there are three meals a day," she said.

"I don't want to get into the rut of using food banks again. My mum was poor back in the eighties and nineties and we had to live off sugar sandwiches and chips and I feel if I go I am taking someone else's slot who might need it more.

"She mum used to get paid on a Monday and by Thursday she had no money left or food and then my grandma would have to help her out."

Laura home cooks all her kids' meals from scratch and makes "stews, soups, roast dinners, home made pizzas, cakes and cookies."

"For lunch time I usually make sandwiches with meat that I’ve cooked or sometimes cooked meat I've already bought," she said.

Laura claims most people don’t appreciate just how much food is required to feed a big family. “With seven people in the house having three meals a day that’s 588 meals a month,” she said.

Laura says something needs to be done about the costs-of-living crisis which is still hurting families "every bit as badly".

"It's our next generation - we need to feed them, they’re going to be tired, they need to step up, kids need to be fed and the older generation is also struggling," she said. "People need to be helped out much more by the government."

Laura also helps out her local community by collecting food being thrown away at supermarkets. "If there’s a small Tesco with food going off – reduced stickers – you can take it from there," she said.

"I will knock on the older people’s doors who are also struggling to get food. "It's hell right now – not just for my family but for many other families as well."

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